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LETTER: Military action not best weapon against terrorism


I wish to point out some flaws in Craig Butler's logic in his October 10 column about pacifism.

First, Mr. Butler deserves credit for pointing out that passive reactions to aggression never work. Butler is also right when he says that passive measures are not called for in this fight against terrorism. Nice talk and actionless patience are not the answer in this case.

Nevertheless, he is dead wrong when he asserts that military measures are the best cure for terrorism. Indeed, he fails to mention even one example of a country ever defeating terrorism by military means. He did not omit this out of a special ignorance - such examples do not appear to exist in modern history.

The way for us to diminish terrorism is to make more friends for ourselves and more enemies for the terrorist, as Britain is doing today in Northern Ireland. When we kill dozens and injure hundreds of civilians every week, we accomplish the opposite, to the great benefit of our enemies. It is folly to threaten suicide bombers with violence - we can only win by depriving them of recruits.

Ask yourself: Are we safer than we were in 1980? Did 21 years of Reagan/Bush/Clin-ton/Bush unilateralism and militarism make civilization safer from terrorism? Or did the terrorist camps in Afghanistan - stepchildren of US cold war policy - instead flourish under our pro-military policies?

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This country has much to be proud of - we lead the world in international generosity in times of need, and are frequently the leading voice for human rights in many regions of the world. Millions of Muslims and Jews live, worship and study in our country in relative peace. This great country was a leader in the fight against fascism and midwife to many great peace agreements, from the United Nations charter to the Camp David Accords and many more.

Because of its achievements, and because this is my home, I love this country too much to stand quietly when it does wrong or to hold it to a lower standard than other countries.

However murderous our enemy, a war can only be just if it is an effective and - this is important - necessary means to protect life, liberty, and justice. In one week, our bombings have killed and injured unarmed innocents, and have won al-Qaida the unlikely sympathy of millions throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Instead of isolating our enemies, we are isolating ourselves. This serves the interests of terrorists, undertakers and no one else.

Benjamin Jones

UNM alumnus

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